DESIGN HOW TO: Lighting the house

Lighting is one of most important elements in your home. At a mimimum, you need general, ambient lighting in every room to light the entire space. You could get away with only this type but most people also need task lighting (undercabinet lighting, desk lamp, etc.), accent lighting (a picture light or downlight) as well the often underthought and underplanned decorative lighting. If not considered carefully these decorative lights (dining room chandeliers, kitchen pendants, etc.) could be a lost opportunity to create a unique personality for your home!

For our English Country project, we had a general look in mind for the entire home but then had to carefully think through the specific look we wanted for each room. For some rooms, we already had at least one item that was selected for its strong decorative statement, giving us a head start on the room design. Read along for how and why we selected lighting for this entire house!

Foyer – creating identity in a boring space

The foyer was very nice and generously sized, but lacked any real style. Since we were creating a country English feel for the rest of the house, we decided to dress up the foyer with more of a London townhouse look. The oversized four foot tall lantern was selected for its British feel (it coincidentally looks like an English “Bobby” police hat) in brass and black, the black being used to work with our vintage caned settee.

Dining Room – coordinating and updating existing furnishings

Our plan for the dining room was to use an existing table and chairs, replicas of historic pieces, mixed with other furnishings to create an updated, fresh look. Lighting selection was tricky – too traditional a choice would look dated and too modern a selection would look disjointed. So we selected an oversized lantern, somewhat modern and unexpected, that has an overall shape that mimics the back of the shield-back Sheraton chairs. We added large wall sconces that share the same basic shape.

Study – tempering a strong decorative statement

Our plan for the study is a modified library look. The first thing we purchased for this space was a large Asian screen, a very traditional element that can lean a bit formal. So we selected a modern pendant in black that would temper the formality of the screen and add a modern touch. Built-in bookcases will be topped by sconces in brass, again mixing a traditional look with a modern edge and adding to the masculine and utilitarian library look we wanted.

Primary Bedroom – using a room’s strengths and weaknesses

This bedroom, with 14′ tall ceilings and an ocatagonal shape, was a difficult size and shape to design. All but two walls were at a sharp angle, rendering them useless functionally and decoratively and leaving the ceiling, floor and the two long walls to do all the work. But the high ceiling was dramatic and unique, so we selected a large chandelier in shades of brown wood beads to center the room and draw attention to the new tongue and groove wood cladding. A large antique cabinet will hold the TV and a colorful rug grounds the space.

Living Room – promoting visual flow in open floor plans

The living room is a dressed up but comfortable space and centrally located and open to other rooms. To work with this layout we selected lighting to work with the adjoining rooms’ lighting look and metal finishes. We chose a masculine chandelier in bronze and brass, the rounded shape similar to lighting in all downstairs rooms. Previously purchased large artwork with gold leaf works with a modern brass double sconce that will top the built-in bookcases.

Main Bathroom – warming up a sterile space with texture

Our plan for this bathroom was a warm and vintage-inspired space with tongue and groove wood wainscoting, warm marble countertops and a painted freestanding footed tub. The flush-mounted light, which hangs over the tub, looks great in a soft white wicker and adds a touch of texture to a typically hard-surfaced room. Muted blue-green painted vanities further warm the space and add interest.

Powder Room – creating a big look in a tiny space

This tiny half-bath under the stairs offers barely enough space for a sink so we made the most of it with a big look. We used an antique table, open at the base to add the illusion of more space, that will hold a vessel sink. The wall-mounted faucet in Italian Brass will also require less space. We selected a slim pair of sconces in bronze and brass that will hang on the walls adjacent to the vanity.

Kitchen – unifying a room with metals and marble

The kitchen in this project is space-challenged and oddly shaped so we knew the look had to be special to compensate for its other drawbacks. We chose a muted blue-green cabinet color, white-painted wood wainscoting and wood ceilings and chose Imperial Danby marble with lots of brown veining. We then selected lighting and cabinet hardware in bronze that will unify the entire area that is open to other rooms.

Keeping Room – balancing a tall space with a small footprint

The keeping room is open to the breakfast room, kitchen, sunroom and living room and has an impressive height but a small footprint. We wanted lighting with the right look, shape and size, large but not too large, that would suit the space while complementing other lighting in the area. We selected a traditional style chandelier in bronze that is large in overall size but open and airy, so the size doesn’t overwhelm the space. We’ll add linen shades to add more interest and softness.

Breakfast Room – creating the illusion of space in a small room

This small octagonal space is open to the kitchen, side entry, keeping room and sunroom and its footprint is small so a baluster-base table and six small chairs will be the only furnishings in the room. We wanted lighting that would not impede the view or block the light from the single window or other areas, so we selected a clear glass lantern in bronze, tall in height and oversized to take advantage of the vaulted ceiling.

Sunroom – creating contrast with warm white and walnut

The sunroom is an octagonally shaped space with expansive views of the pool and golf course and with lots of natural light. The vaulted ceiling and walls are tongue and groove wood boards painted in a warm white so we selected a large antique cabinet for the TV and coffee table trunk in walnut to create a warm, high-contrast look. We selected a ceiling fan in bronze with walnut blades to continue the look.